10 Facts about sanitation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, a diverse and culturally rich nation located in South Asia, is loved for its beautiful green scenery and numerous waterways. With sound economic policies and political reforms, Bangladesh has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Bangladesh’s remarkable economic growth has helped lift the majority of the population out of poverty. Millions are now able to enjoy fundamental living necessities such as access to clean water and sanitation that were not available before. However, there is still room for improvement. Here are the top 10 facts about sanitation in Bangladesh.

10 facts about sanitation in Bangladesh

  1. Contaminated water: Over 40 percent of all improved water sources in Bangladesh are contaminated with E. coli which could cause diarrhea, dysentery or cholera. Arsenic was also found in Bangladeshi groundwater, which could lead to cancers and social stigma. About 12.4 percent of the population was exposed to arsenic-affected water in 2012, a significant improvement from 26.6 percent in 2000. However, with 19.4 million people drinking this unsafe water, Bangladesh remains the country with the largest proportion of people exposed to arsenic contamination globally.
  2. Open defecation: Bangladesh has made incredible progress in reducing the practice of open defecation. Through the implementation of innovative behavior change campaigns and the construction of new latrine facilities, the rate of open defecation in the population declined from 34 percent in 1990 to only 1 percent in 2015.
  3. Menstrual hygiene: The taboo around menstrual health is prevalent in Bangladesh, emerging from an absence of proper awareness and knowledge. Only 36 percent of adolescent girls know about menstruation when it first occurs, and only 10 percent use sanitary pads during their periods. Additionally, only 22 percent of schools have separate toilet facilities for girls. This lack of knowledge and proper menstrual hygiene management directly impacts the education and well-being of Bangladeshi girls. About 40 percent of girls miss three days of school during menstruation, and nearly one out of three adolescent girls said that menstruation affects their school performance.
  4. Hygienic behavior: A 2013 UNICEF survey found that only 59.1 percent of the population wash their hands with water and soap. Another survey in 2014 reveals that only 40 percent of households have water and soap available for handwashing, compared to only 16 percent of the poorest households. The South Asia WASH Results Programme has helped to improve hygiene practices by teaching hygiene habits to over 4.1 million primary school children from 2014 to 2018.
  5. Economic cost: Inadequate sanitation and hygiene cost Bangladesh an estimate of $4.23 billion, which is 6.3 percent of the GDP. The largest contributors to this economic impact are health-related losses, which account for 84 percent of the impact, or 5.3 percent of the nation’s GDP. Costs of accessing cleaner water, welfare and time losses, productivity losses also contribute to the high economic impact.
  6. Access to hygienic toilets and sanitation facilities: The rate of sanitation coverage is only 61 percent, growing at 1.1 percent annually. More than 40 percent of all latrines in Bangladesh is still unimproved, and the sanitation facilities for children with disabilities are still lacking. Bangladesh is working towards increasing access to hygienic sanitation facilities with several projects supported by the World Bank, focusing on low-income and vulnerable communities.
  7. Disparities between different regions and households: UNICEF found that only 31.6 percent of people in Sylhet Division have access to E. coli-free water, comparing to 71.8 percent in Rangpur Division. Poor households are less likely to have drinking water on their premises, and thus have to spend more time collecting water from outside sources. They are also 10 times more likely to use unimproved sanitation than the rich.
  8. Universal access to improved water sources: 98 percent of the Bangladeshi population now has drinking water from technologically improved sources. This is incredible progress since only 79 percent of people had such access in 1990. About 83 percent of the urban population and 71.9 percent of the rural population had improved water sources available on their premises.
  9. Floods: Bangladesh is prone to flooding and water levels could remain high for months, which could damage freshwater ponds and shallow wells. Toilets also tend to overflow and become unusable due to the floods, contaminating water sources and exposing people to dangerous diseases. Since 2011, a local NGO called Uttaran has helped to construct improved toilet facilities that could survive floods and wells that provided safe water that benefited more than 2,000 people in these vulnerable communities.
  10. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS): The successful innovative approach from Bangladesh has since become an established approach used in many other developing countries to improve hygiene and sanitation. The approach aims to eradicate open defecation with the combination of community pressure and NGO support. It also focuses on personal responsibilities to finance one’s own toilets without imposing external designs and promote low-cost homemade toilets using local materials, which makes toilets a lot more accessible and affordable even to the poorest population. This approach has enabled hundreds of rural villages to reach 100 percent sanitation coverage in less than a year.

With the continuing efforts of the government and the aid from different NGOs, Bangladesh has achieved considerable progress in sanitation developments. Though many challenges still remain, Bangladesh is committed and making great strides to progress towards clean water, sanitation and hygiene for all.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Overpopulation in Brazil

Overpopulation in Brazil has resulted in a widening gap with respect to age, gender and well-being for a large percentage of its populace.​ Around one-fourth of Brazil’s population suffer from inadequate housing. While efforts are underway to change the status quo, there is still much to be done in order to control important overpopulation factors. These are the 10 facts about overpopulation in Brazil.

10 Facts About Overpopulation in Brazil

  1. Population total: Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world — equivalent to nearly 3 percent of the total world population. It is estimated that the population of Brazil will reach 225 million by 2025, an increase from 200 million.
  2. Population based on region: More than 80 million people are concentrated in Southeast Brazil. The second-largest populated area is the Northeast with over 53 million inhabitants. The third-largest populated area is the South which ranks in at over 27 million people. The North and Central-West regions have the least population.
  3. Population by age: The birth rate in Brazil has changed since the 50s and 60s and shows a decrease, with an average of fewer than two children per couple. Due to a decrease in mortality, the number of adults and the elderly are greater than the number of children. Children 14 and under make up 21.3 percent of Brazil’s population. Nearly 80 percent of Brazil’s total population are between the ages of 15 and 64. Of note, life expectancy has increased from 66 years in the 90s to 73 years in 2010.
  4. Population by gender: There are slightly more women than men with 51 percent of Brazilians being female and 49 percent being men; however, women are still struggling to find equality. Women, on average, earn 23 percent less than men, even if they have a higher education.
  5. Most costly city: With a population of more than 12 million, Sao Paulo is the most expensive city in South America and the 27th most costly in the world. One-quarter of San Paulo’s population is living in poverty. To have a comfortable life in Sao Paulo, it is estimated that citizens make around $1,500 per person; however, the average salary is $675 per month.
  6. Housing deficit: More than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate housing conditions. Pernambuco has the highest housing deficit in Brazil. Of those who lack satisfactory housing, 66 percent live below the poverty line and have limited to no access to banking facilities. It is estimated that Brazil has a housing deficit between 6 and 8 million houses, with the greatest need being in the southeast and northeast.
  7. Organizations that help: Habitat for Humanity is one group that is working toward solving the housing crisis. The organization helps people living in San Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other small cities. Habitat for Humanity provides aid by building new homes, repairing homes and improving access to sanitation. In San Paulo, 100 people will have their houses improved by Habitat for Humanity through community projects. Habitat for Humanity is in the process of building more than 1,600 houses in Pernambuco.
  8. Sanitation: Around 4 million of Brazil’s population lack access to safe water. Inadequate sanitation plagues 24 million of Brazil’s populous. In addition to a  clean water deficit, 45 percent of the population lacks adequate sewage which caused approximately 35 percent of Brazilian cities to break out in disease due to poor sanitation.
  9. WaterCredit to the rescue: Water.org helped establish WaterCredit as a solution to Brazil’s sanitation woes. Loans of $2.2 million have been disbursed by its partners, benefitting 9,000 people in Brazil to date. Water.org is in the process of certifying other financial institutions with the goal of expanding its reach in Brazil.

A lack of sanitation and housing are just a few consequences of Brazil’s overpopulation issue. However, by empowering women and supporting organizations that help aid in financial and social equality, Brazil’s population could see an end to the issues that its overpopulation has caused.

– Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Albania
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today, 40 percent of its households lack basic education, heat and sanitation, and only 50 percent in both rural and urban areas have access to safe drinking water. Albania is located in southeastern Europe with neighboring countries Montenegro, Kosovo and Greece. The population estimates just over 3 million people. Albania became free from communist rule and later established a multiparty democracy holding its first multiparty election in 1991. Albania joined NATO in 2009 and became a candidate to join the European Union in 2014. In 2017, Albania received a European Commission recommendation to open EU accession negotiations. The unemployment rate has steadily decreased from 13.6 percent in 2017 to 11.4 in 2019. To learn more about its sanitation issues, here are 10 facts about sanitation in Albania.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Albania

  1. Basic sanitation services are increasing. People living in the rural section of Albania are using basic sanitation services, which is nearly a 15 percent increase from its lowest value of 82.19 percent in 2000. That means these people are using basic services that other households do not share.
  2. Sanitation conditions have grabbed the EU’s Attention. Since achieving the candidacy of the EU in 2014, Albania has made a commitment to bring its water and sanitation sector up to EU standards. The Albanian government has implemented numerous reforms, already reducing municipalities and local authorities from 300 to 61. The government is also progressively decentralizing public services, which means more decision-making responsibilities have gone to local governments and public authorities.
  3. National service providers are improving commercial and technical expertise. Albania’s water sector institutions are in cooperation with the National Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy. This partnership gives the project an outreach that extends to all cities to help communication flow between water users and the public with the institution using an online customer portal for service providers.
  4. Albania has resources for fresh water. Albania is a small country with over 150 rivers, including streams and lakes. Ninety-five percent discharge into the Adriatic Sea and only 5 percent of rivers go into the Ionian Sea. There are two periods of water flow during a calendar year. The shorter dry period runs from June through September. The wet period spans from October through May.
  5. The European Union supports clean water supply in Albania. In 2018, the EU contributed a 24 million euro grant to Albania. In the last 10 years, the grant support to its water supply exceeded 110 million euros. A large percentage of the grant goes to wastewater collections and treatment in Albania coastal regions.
  6. Albanian schools are promoting personal hygiene. A health fair occurred as part of the Vechan School Water Project and it included local nurses, students, the Red Cross and the local State Health Department. The project resulted in renovating and reconstructing bathrooms and plumbing to improve the conditions of the school due to damages from clogged toilets and sinks without running water or sinks running dirty water. The health fair gave lessons in personal hygiene to young students. It also tested students for diabetes and gave blood pressure checks. Following the fair, local experts, students and school staff took on the assistance in reconstructing the school.
  7. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students provide data to remedy water issues in Albania. Each year, 24 WPI students go to Albania to work in four-person groups on six projects to address topics that include the water issues and how to solve them. These projects include documenting environmental conditions along major rivers, developing a water education program for Albanian high schools and promoting community-based tourism in villages that have previously inaccessible caves.
  8. The Albanian Water Regulatory Authority and Consumer Protection Commission developed a partnership to alleviate water and sanitation issues. The Water Regulatory Authority and Consumer Protection Commission have created a model contract between providers of water and sewerage services and their customers. The intent of the contract is to protect consumers’ interests with provisions for consumer protection and Albania’s water and environmental resources. This addresses issues concerning the access and quality of water and sanitation. This also educates both parties on ways to improve the quality of water and sanitation services.
  9. The Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF) supports water supply and sanitation services among other needs for Albania. The WBIF has supported 30 projects that value up to 2 billion euros which provide better schools, energy sources, modern sanitation services and supply water for its sectors eligible for rebuilding and renovation. The achieved results include wastewater systems for over 260,000 people with expectations to exceed another 100,000, in addition to improved waste services to 180,000.
  10. Water Charity contributes to rebuilding sanitation efforts in Albania. Water Charity has started a program to work on 100 water projects in Albania, including 10 school bathroom projects. The program falls under the Let Girls Learn Initiative. It is a collaborative effort from former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps, which expands access to education for girls around the world.

Efforts from organizations in these 10 facts about sanitation in Albania have been exemplary for aiding Albania’s sanitation efforts overall. Thanks to multiple team efforts, Albania is optimistic about its conditions and overall health concerns. With more work ahead, this country is on its way to reaching EU potential.

Thomas Cintula
Photo: UN Multimedia

Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa with a population of nearly 114 million. While Ethiopia has a deep-rooted history as Africa’s oldest sub-Saharan state, it also has a long track record of devastating poverty. Financial instability has led many families to rely on their children for work, and this has put Ethiopia on the map for having one of the most catastrophic child labor problems in the world. To develop solutions to this persistent problem, it is important that people raise awareness. Here are the top 10 facts about child labor in Ethiopia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia

  1. Child Labor Rate: According to USAID, nearly 27 percent of Ethiopia’s youth population participates in the labor force. Ethiopia is one of many African countries suffering from widespread child labor, with the African region accounting for the highest rate of child labor in the world. The Internal Labour Organization blames these high levels of child labor on continued economic and political turmoil.
  2. World Vision Ethiopia and Education Centers: Fortunately, child labor in Ethiopia has been steadily decreasing over the last two decades. A study found that the percentage of child labor in Ethiopia decreased by 25 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls between 2000 and 2013. World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) is one nongovernmental organization contributing to these declining numbers by promoting education instead of child labor. Beginning in 1971, WVE has established education centers in Ethiopia, trained teachers, supported school attendance, enrolled children in vocational services and supported families savings plans to lessen the financial burden on their children. According to a WVE report, The Ethiopians Fighting Against Childhood Exploitation Project began in 2011. This project, which includes WVE and two other NGOs, targets 20,000 Ethiopian children by promoting childhood education and creating better social protections for children in Ethiopia.
  3. Unstable Education: The instability of Ethiopia’s education system makes it one of the major causes of child labor. Despite compulsory primary education and government-subsidized schooling, widespread economic hardship has led to low attendance rates and a lack of resources. With no quality education to turn to, vulnerable children often resort to child labor to lend financial support to their families.
  4. Demographics in Child Labor: The demographic breakdown of child labor in Ethiopia shows the lowest rate for children ages 5-9, with 48 percent of them working in the labor force. This percentage jumps to 72 percent for children ages 10-14 and 75 percent for children ages 15-17. Despite the large percentage differences between age brackets, the difference between genders is only 3 percent.
  5. The Ethiopian Government’s Efforts: In 2018, Ethiopia’s government took further steps to mitigate child labor by working with international and non-governmental organizations to combat disparities in educational resources and government oversight. Programs focused on smuggling, sex-trafficking, forced labor and children’s rights are among the new government initiatives to curtail child labor. In the same year, the National Child Policy made it onto the national agenda, offering major reforms that would commit the government, “to sustain its commitment to respect, protect and fulfill children’s rights and enhance the family and community’s role in the healthy growth and personality development of children.” While the Ethiopian government has not signed this legislation into law, the movement behind the policy is quickly gaining traction with those committed to eliminating child labor.
  6. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking is a common practice in Ethiopia, responsible for forcing children into domestic and sex work. This practice, prominent in the Capital, Addis Ababa, has seen people sell 20,000 children into the trafficking industry despite laws that prohibit the practice. The lack of enforcement involving the investigation and prosecution of child-trafficking perpetrators is the primary reason that these abuses persist.
  7. The International Labour Organisation (ILO): In 2003, Ethiopia ratified a convention that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposed, a United Nations Agency that dedicates itself to prohibiting and eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The convention, which recognizes poverty and inadequate education as significant barriers to eliminating child labor, led Ethiopia to distribute textbooks and build primary schools. A report by the United States Department of Labor describes Ethiopia’s progress as a “moderate advancement,” noting that, while there are still steps that Ethiopia needs to take, this is the beginning of a necessary solution.
  8. Types of Labor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, cattle, gold and hand-woven textiles are among the most common goods that child labor in Ethiopia produces. The children participating in manufacturing textiles and gold are most prominent in urban areas, while those working in cattle herding and production are the most prominent in rural areas. In fact, cattle and farming account for 89 percent of child labor in rural areas, according to the International Labour Organisation.
  9. Hazardous Working Conditions: A study that the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) conducted reported that children in Ethiopia spent, on average, 41.4 hours a week in working conditions declared that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared hazardous. The ILO defines Hazardous work as, “work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children.” The CSA concluded that this work has had detrimental effects on children’s health and school attendance in Ethiopia.
  10. A Top Country for Child Labor: According to the Maplecroft Child Labor Index, Ethiopia ranks fourth behind Bangladesh, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo on a list of the top 10 worst countries for child labor. While this number is more than devastating, the researchers who determine this ranking explain that the numbers do not include the thousands of unseen, uncounted child laborers. This gives the world an even greater reason to help bring awareness and solutions to the child labor problem plaguing Ethiopia.

While these facts about child labor in Ethiopia show that child labor has left an indelible mark on the country, new government reforms can undo much of the previous damage. The goal for future generations of Ethiopian children to live fulfilled lives that emphasize childhood education rather than childhood labor is now a real possibility.

– Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr

TB in TanzaniaTanzania is a country located in East Africa that is home to 54 million people. Unfortunately, tuberculosis is a big issue within the country. Tanzania currently ranks within the top 30 countries worldwide that are most affected by tuberculosis. While the national TB budget has consistently stood at around $60 million. However, NGOs like APOPO are also doing their part to fight TB in Tanzania.

Why APOPO is Needed

Historically, Tanzania has struggled to supply clinics with rapid forms of testing. But this is where APOPO helps to bridge the gap. APOPO is an NGO fighting TB in Tanzania by using specially trained rats to detect cases of the disease. Along with the work this group does in Tanzania, it also helps fight against tuberculosis in Mozambique and Ethiopia. Since the program in Tanzania first launched in 2007, the group grew from collaborations with four government clinics to 57 clinics.

How APOPO Fights TB

Many forms of testing for tuberculosis are quite inaccurate. The better quality methods of testing can be quite expensive and take a longer time to get results. Cheaper forms of testing can often yield false results. Due to cheap testing, people will be given an inaccurate diagnosis. Government clinics in Tanzania mainly use smear microscopy tests due to the test’s affordability.

This method of detection has very low sensitivity rates that range from 20 to 60 percent. To combat the current inadequate forms of testing for tuberculosis, APOPO has implemented a program that uses specially trained rats. These rats can detect cases of tuberculosis at a fast and more accurate rate.

The rats at APOPO’s facilities can test 100 samples in 20 minutes, as opposed to technicians who can only check 25 samples per day. APOPO’s labs can get test results within 24 hours. APOPO’s rats have increased detection rates of tuberculosis by 40 percent.

APOPO’s Effect

APOPO is an NGO fighting TB in Tanzania that has seen success in its initiative to incorporate innovative tactics in the fight against tuberculosis. From 2000 to 2018 there have been decreases in total incidents of TB as well as a decrease in new and relapse cases in Tanzania.

Tuberculosis currently ranks within the top 10 causes of death across the world. APOPO already works with 57 clinics in Tanzania. This group’s success through alternative methods of testing can serve as an example of how to fight against the spread of tuberculosis.

James Turner
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Complex Problems with Asylum in the U.S.It is no secret that the U.S. immigration system is broken. With thousands of immigrants are seeking asylum in the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is detaining them at the border. CBP has effectively jailed immigrant children in detention camps. There are somewhat secretive limits on asylum applications. In order to fix a system, it is necessary to first understand its complexities. The U.S. immigration structure as a whole is a huge and complex system that cannot be simplified into one article. This article will discuss the asylum process and specific areas that have begun to undermine asylum in the U.S.

What is the asylum process?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website defines asylum applicants as people who are “seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” The process begins after an immigrant enters the U.S. either under a different status or as an asylum applicant. An immigrant seeking asylum is required to file a form with USCIS  within one year of entering the country. They must provide extensive evidence that the applicant has a credible fear of returning to his or her home country.

As per regulation, applicants for asylum in the U.S. are able to make a claim at the U.S. border crossing or while they are in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes custody with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In fact, there is no way to request asylum in advance. Olga Byrne, Director of Immigration for the non-profit International Rescue Committee, confirmed that “There’s no way to ask for a visa or any type of authorization in advance for the purpose of seeking asylum. You just have to show up.”

After arriving at the border and going through an initial asylum interview. The interviewer then determines whether the applicant’s fear is credible. If the interviewer determines that there is a credible fear, then the applicant is released and given a court date to plead their case before an immigration judge in addition to filing the USCIS form. If it is found not credible, DHS begins deportation proceedings, though the applicant does have the option of requesting that his or her case be heard by an immigration judge.

What are the immediate problems?

The first and most immediate issue is the lack of legal counsel. The government does not provide counsel to immigrants going through the asylum process. Navigating the U.S. legal system can be difficult for anyone, let alone an asylum seeker that may or may not have full command of the English language. Having an attorney makes a significant difference. A 2016 study by Syracuse University found that having representation increases an applicant’s chances of approval for an asylum case by 40 percent.

In the same study, researchers found that 90 percent of claims for asylum in the U.S. without representation are ultimately denied. This is partly because the burden of proof is entirely on the applicant to show to the courts and USCIS that he or she is eligible under the regulations. This can be a difficult prospect for someone who does may struggle with the language or lacks have access to documents containing regulations and applicable evidence while detained.

The second issue is immense pressure to deny cases. Former immigration judge Jeffry S. Chase confirms that immigration judges are assigned quotas for cases each year. Every day, each judge sees a dashboard of their statistics with a green/yellow/red layout to show them whether they are getting through the appropriate amount of cases each day. Though the quotas are meant to help keep cases moving forward, in reality, they push judges to deny cases since denials go faster. Pushing through cases means that applicants and attorneys do not have time to build the record of evidence and ultimately build their case.

What can people do to help?

There are multiple organizations that provide pro bono representation to asylees. The Immigration Justice Campaign is an organization devoted to providing due process for non-U.S. citizens. Another organization is the American Association of Immigration Lawyers’ pro bono project, which provides pro bono immigration counsel to vulnerable populations such as asylum seekers.

For long-term solutions, it is important that people continually contact their representatives about issues in immigration. One can support immigration reform, such as getting rid of judge quotas or providing those seeking asylum in the U.S. with free legal counsel. Government employees generally are not allowed to disclose any information about their work nor are they allowed to speak publically about what goes on behind the scenes at USCIS, DHS, or similar governmental organizations, but that does not mean that they do not care. There are people in government who want to help, but they need citizens to speak up and speak out against unfair immigration policies.

The immigration system as a whole has problems, but they are not irreversible. The asylum process is currently complicated and difficult, but it does not have to be that way. With the right amount of political activism from U.S. citizens and cooperation, change is possible.

Melanie Rasmussen
Photo: Flickr

Supporting Entrepreneurs in Developing CountriesFrom 2002 to 2012, the World Bank invested around 9 billion dollars in skills training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. The hope was to counteract the shortage of schools worldwide. However, because these programs suffered from low participation and high dropout rates, they seldom lasted long enough to make any real impact. After doing a cost and benefits analysis of these programs, the World Bank found that they were not successful in increasing participant income. Consequently, the World Bank has started to withdraw its support from these programs, citing that there are several problems with the initiatives.

With the failure of such programs, aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries need a more efficient system to support them. Currently, more than two billion workers in these countries are unable to meet the requirements of possible employers, including necessary literacy skills. There are now about 420 million incapable workers below the age of 25. As a country’s economy evolves, locals need to adapt to changing needs. However, an overwhelming amount of people do not have the skill sets to do so.

Possible Solutions

One solution to this problem has been introducing programs that cultivate entrepreneurship in Africa’s youth and women. There have been several programs already instituted to work towards this goal, including the Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (paid), BeniBiz, Apoio e Geração e Incremento de Renda (AGIR), Impulsa Tu Empresa 2.0 (ITE 2.0) and Crece Tu Empresa (CRECE). 

These programs offer content and training in creating and maintaining businesses. They also offer lessons on accounting, management and finance. Some cater to individuals, while others cater to business owners. Graduation programs, which are now in the works, also intend to provide entrepreneurship learning services for lower prices. Overall, there are many options for aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. Two programs that especially stand out are the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) graduation program and Business Lab Africa (BLA).

Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)

The International Labor Organization created Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) in 1977. It offers vocational training that has shown concrete results. People can use the locally relevant knowledge they gain from this program to work jobs that are in-demand and make a living for themselves and their families. The program also offers business management training. It teaches skills in accounting, finance, creating and maintaining business and management practices. Thus far, this program has more than 15 million users and is still growing. 

SIYB has been able to change the lives of many of its users. In 2011, the program conducted a SIYB Global Tracer Study that examined the effects of the program on users’ lives. About one-third of users who had no prior experience in business before receiving SIYB training were able to generate an average of three new jobs following its curriculum. SIYB is continuing to update its technology. In fact, a new version of its web-based monitoring platform (SIYB Gateway) is expected to launch in 2020.

Business Lab Africa (BLA)

The Business Lab Africa program (BLA) works to help African entrepreneurs succeed in business areas. The program itself is subscription-based and provides quality entrepreneurship training at inexpensive price points. This makes it easily accessible to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The program’s services can be accessed via mobile or web.

BLA “offers practical, qualitative and locally relevant” knowledge around marketing, sales, global expansion, business structure, processes and business models. Teachers in this program are distinguished business experts who teach relevant skills that entrepreneurs in developing countries can use to support themselves. Thus far, it has trained more than one million entrepreneurs both online and in person. By 2022, BLA estimates that its user base will increase to at least 100,000 people.

These programs are generally tailored to fit the needs of underprivileged individuals, offering both asset transfer and training. Additionally, they do not require repayment of initial grants, which would usually create an insurmountable barrier to student success and self-sustainability. With these programs, people living in underdeveloped countries will have the opportunity to access the educational tools needed to succeed despite staggering economic situations. 

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Plastic Waste Action and Poverty in IndiaWithin the last year, more information has come out about the consumption of plastics and their mismanagement. The information has spread awareness of the dangers of single-use plastics and encouraged using paper or reusable straws along with a number of other initiatives. Few, however, have been as transformative as one undertaken in India by the NGO Sarthak Samudayik Vikas Avan Jan Kalyan Sanstha (SSVAJKS). SSVAJKS has spearheaded a streamlined process of plastic waste collection and sell to recyclers. Though SSVAJKS may be the only organization connecting plastic waste action and poverty in India, others are joining the efforts to mitigate the problem.

Large Scale Support

At least 16.5 million tons of plastics are consumed annually, 43 percent of which are single-use, packaging material. Around 80 percent of these plastics are discarded. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India Drive promises to address pollution in India. In March 2019, India banned imports of plastic waste. By September, it banned single-use and disposable plastic products. Headlined by Modi’s speech on August 15 calling for the elimination of such items by October 2, the Indian government aims to reduce disposable plastics to zero by 2022.

In alignment with this initiative, Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart announced actions to remove single-use plastics from their packaging. They will instead opt for entirely paper cushions and recycled plastic consumption by March 2021. In June 2018, PepsiCo India vowed to replace its plastic Lays and Kurkure bag with “100 percent compostable, plant-based” ones. This was countered by Coca-Cola’s goal to recycle one can or bottle for every one sold by 2030.

Sarthak Samudayik Vikas Avan Jan Kalyan Sanstha

While governments and corporations have addressed the future of plastic consumption, they neglect the areas where SSVAJKS helps the most. SSVAKLS is dealing with the existing plastic that has already been produced. SSVAKLS has the support of the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program under the advisement and jurisdiction of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). These efforts have connected the campaigns against plastic overconsumption and mismanagement with SSVAJKS’ recycling initiative.

The NGO began linking plastic waste action and poverty in India in the city of Bhopal in 2008. It developed a sustainable integrated waste management system for the city’s five wards, a model that expanded to the state level in 2011. Replicated across India in all of its states, this model relies on ‘ragpickers’ to sift through the waste and pick out plastics returned to municipal collection centers. These collectors come from highly vulnerable, socially marginalized castes and are predominantly poor, illiterate women.

Since partaking in this initiative, the incomes of the ‘ragpickers’ have vastly improved, doubling in many cases. The plastic they collect and submit to the collection centers is recycled into roads and co-processing in cement kilns, benefitting upwards of two million people. The overwhelming success of the NGO led to another SGP grant that enlisted “2,000 unorganized waste pickers” across the Bhopal Municipal Corporation’s 70 wards.

The Endgame

SGP hopes to build a sustainable plastic waste management system and ensure the co-processing of plastic waste. It will also increase the standards of living for 2,000 ragpicker families. New initiatives are introducing vermicomposting along with paper bag and cotton making units. The results are phenomenal. Ragpickers have collected 4,200 megatons of plastic, saving plastic from burning and emitting 12,000 megatons of carbon. Additionally, the ragpickers themselves are able to open bank accounts to accumulate their savings, lifting them slowly but surely out of abject poverty. The success of the SSVAJKS in combining efforts to address plastic waste action and poverty in India demonstrates the NGO’s capacity to tackle multiple issues at once and incentivize the solving of one through the other.

Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in HaitiWith a population of more than 10 million, Haiti faces high levels of poverty. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. More than half of all Haitians live on less than $2 a day and about one fourth live on less than $1.25 a day. However, things are looking up thanks to these nonprofits fighting poverty in Haiti.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP)

Founded in 2007, HFAP originally focused on child sponsorships and providing food for the elderly. However, it expanded and opened an elementary school in Port-au-Prince in 2008. This school brought infections and illnesses to the attention of the organization. As a result, HFAP opened its first medical program in 2009. It trained local nurses and provided the children with needed medications. In 2010, HFAP opened both an orphanage and a women’s job creation program called “Gift of Hope” to fight poverty in Haiti.

HRAP’s founder, Mallery Neptune, runs HOPE House with her husband Frentz. Hope House is an orphanage that looks after and cares for abandoned Haitian children. It provides food, education, medical care, love and attention. HOPE House was originally established as a toddler and infant care center, helping malnourished, wounded or orphaned children recover and return home. HRAP also reaches out to the mothers of these children when possible. They can enroll in Gift of Hope so that these children can return to stronger and healthier families.

Gift of Hope is a program to give mothers in poverty reliable skills and income to help them provide for their children. It currently employs 70 Haitian women, providing them with an income that is “at least three times the minimum wage” in Haiti. It is helping prevent the cycle of poverty by creating jobs that keep the women out of poverty and their kids out of orphanages and off the streets. Gift of Hope also works with local artisans; all purchases on the online shop go toward helping empower women and strengthen families in Haiti.

REBUILD globally

Julie Colombino founded Rebuild globally when she visited Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to help with disaster relief. The organization has evolved drastically over the years. What started as disaster relief led to education and eventually job training. “The transition came out of necessity as I was learning the truths behind the poverty in Haiti,” Colombino told The Borgen Project. “I learned that education wasn’t just enough to be sustainable in a country like Haiti where the unemployment and under-employment rates were nearly 80 percent.”

Education is necessary, but it does not have as large of an impact on a country if there are no jobs available to provide Haitians with a much-needed income. So, REBUILD globally works to provide both an education and a job to those in need.

The Elèv Education Program provides students with full scholarships to attend school, covering the costs of books, uniforms and tuition. Students not only receive full funding for their education through Elèv but have access to mentoring programs and personalized tutoring. It is still a small program since it sees children all the way through their schooling (most of whom attend university afterward) and gives them a guaranteed job at their for-profit counterpart Deux mains. However, Colombino expressed her desire to reach out to more regions and counties in Haiti. The Elèv program has educated more than 300 students and provided 15,080 hours of tutoring.

The Lavi Job Training Program prepares Haitians for the workplace. With the lack of businesses and available positions, REBUILD globally decided to focus on what it could control and curate. Colombino stated that this allowed the organization to give those in the program “a 100% guarantee…[that] there would be a dignified, living wage job waiting for them.” Since every Haitian enrolled in their job training program is promised a job at Deux mains, the training is very specific to the craftsman’s work within the factory. The program has helped those enrolled see a 92 percent increase in food security and a 53 percent average decrease in debt.

Haiti Partners

John Engle and Kent Annan founded Haiti Partners in 2009. It helps provide education to Haitians so they can help their country grow and thrive. Engle had moved to Haiti in 1991 and started developing programs then along with their other Haitian and American staff members. The education programs being put to use had been in the works for more than a dozen years prior. Haiti Partners’ goal is to provide a new approach to education as their way of fighting poverty in Haiti.

Haiti Partners opened the Children’s Academy and Learning Center in 2012. It provides both a quality education and a “working model of education-centered community development.” It educates both the children and their parents, who attend adult education classes, community savings and loan groups or contributes to service hours. Haiti Partners seeks to become a model for Haiti’s Ministry of Education and other schools in the country, in hopes of reshaping how Haitians are being educated for the better.

USAID believes that education is necessary “for sustained social and economic development,” which is why it is often a focus of nonprofits. More than 85 percent of the schools in Haiti are run by NGOs and communities. It is no wonder that these nonprofits are fighting poverty in Haiti by improving education.

Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Traditional Food and Poverty
While China boasts the world’s second-largest economy and a growing number of billionaires, the country’s impoverished population continues to suffer. Although the national poverty rate fell from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 3.1 percent in 2017, China still estimated that over 16 million rural people were living below the poverty line in 2019.

The Chinese government, under the leader Xi Jinping, has made great strides in poverty reduction. A major goal is to eliminate extreme poverty in China by 2020. Efforts to aid the country’s poor include planning for road and housing construction in rural areas, as well as education. This is mainly because rural areas are home to most of China’s poor population. One practice occurring in the Gansu province of China adopts a less traditional approach. Here, traditional food and poverty link in a way that aims to help the rural poor.

The Gansu Province

The Gansu Province is a rural area in northwestern China and home to about 26 million people. Gansu is predominantly an agricultural area, yet frequent earthquakes, droughts and famines have strained the area’s agricultural output and economy.

Poverty is a significant issue that faces the residents of Gansu, but the Chinese government is taking note. Local authorities have been combating poverty from all angles. They recently adopted a rather unconventional approach to fight economic concerns. The local Gansu province authorities plan to teach residents how to make a traditional Chinese noodle dish from scratch.

Lanzhou Beef Noodles

Lanzhou beef noodles get their name from the province’s capital city and are a traditional and famous meal that people eat widely across China. Making the dish from scratch involves the combination of flour and water to create the chewy noodles. The noodles also include clear broth, beef, cilantro, green onions and chili oil.

Gansu government officials announced in 2019 that they planned to teach as many as 15,000 impoverished people how to make these noodles from scratch in an effort to reduce poverty in rural areas. This practice has two main focuses— teach residents how to cook a cheap, traditional and hearty meal and then use this knowledge to facilitate employment. Employment could be through an established noodle shop in the area or by opening their own shop.

Traditional Food and Poverty

While the noodle initiative in the Gansu Province may seem unorthodox, similar programs have occurred in other parts of China. Noodles, in all different varieties, have long been a vital part of cultures around the world. The names of different noodles often even mark certain historical persons or events. Noodles also serve as a way to commemorate specific events in one’s life, such as a birthday or a new year in other cultures.

Additionally, the link between traditional food and poverty is one that is gaining increasing attention as the world examines the nuances of poverty. One study on the traditional “poverty cuisines” of Arab food in Israel, connects the act of cooking and consuming these meals to empowerment in the face of adversity. This study alleges that food choices can allow autonomy and room for preservation and creation of identity.

In examining the link between traditional food and poverty, opportunities for both economic and ideological growth arise. The noodle-making efforts in the Gansu province and across China are a strong example of how food can influence social change. Speaking about the efforts to teach noodle-making in China, NPR reporter Yuhan Xu updated an old proverb, stating “Give a man a bowl of noodles and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to make noodles and you feed him for a lifetime.” Let this new proverb be one that people consider in the fight against global poverty.

Elizabeth Reece Baker
Photo: Pixabay